To remind those who haven’t had the chance to visit the expo by Etam Cru at Montana Gallery Barcelona, the expo “Ugly Heroes” will remain open for public display until the 28th of June.
To close the circle of information about the two Polish artists, we now have the honor to present this interview made exclusively for the publisher La Mono.
Having introduced them as well as Ugly Heroes, the exhibition they inaugurated on May 8th and which is still on display in Montana Gallery, this time we actually spoke to them. Polish Bezt and Sainer are Etam Cru, the kings of large scale painting. Their initially diverse styles have been attracting each other as magnets with time, being today able to decorate cities with the heterogeneity of their drawings and the homogeneity of their intention: putting an end to dullness by bringing the new, the unusual and the surprising in.
Are you happy with the reaction people had throughout the opening of your exhibition?
Yeah, there was really a lot of people and we were very habppy with how it went. We are not so much exhibition guys so we were standing somewhere in a side, we’re not usually in the centre of the exhibition. But people liked the work so we are happy, and of course Barcelona is really nice, it’s like paradise here.
Is it your first time here?
Yes it is, but we hope it won’t be the last one!
First time also in Spain?
Bezt: Yes, for me it’s the first.
How are these days going?
Very cool because of this being our first impressions and fortunately we have free time. We always try to have a free day before the vernissage, so we’ve been able to go outside the city to paint a bit, see abandoned factories, awesome. Also the weather is perfect.
What are your plans for tomorrow and the rest of the days?
We’ll visit some museums, see some art, walk a little bit around the city…
…and enjoy the city.
Sainer: ..and then go to the beach and just lay down (laughs).
About the exhibition, what’s the main concept of what you present?
There’s no straight concept. We started to paint the canvases four months ago and there was no concept or title for the exhibition, we were doing whatever we wanted, really. We wanted to be free with what we did so every canvas is different.
But the title turned out to be Ugly Heroes, did you decide that at the very end?
Yes, it came at the end because we believe it would have cut our wings if we had done it before. We live in different cities and we wanted to create freely, and an early title would have made that difficult. This one reminds us of kids who want to be heroes but who don’t get to be proper ones (laughs). They try to do something stupid just to look like heroes but they’re not. On the other hand, we sometimes like to connect our stuff with music, so our titles have to do with our favourite music. There’s a group of rappers from the US, the Ugly Heroes, and this is also like a tribute to their music, althoigh we decided to interpretate it in our own way. So in the end Ugly Heroes are guys who want to be something like a hero, although they don’t know how to do it. It’s like being a kid.
Does your work have a strong connection with childhood? Your style sometimes resembles Alice in Wonderland. Do you take this connection one step further?
Not really. What we use for our paintings are often signals or symbols from a normal life, but then create a totally different world. Anyway, I think everyone could find a different story behind it. It’s hard to believe that everyone reads a painting in the same way, because it’s impossible. Everyone has a different taste and different views for various situations. Hence, we don’t like to tell the story about a painting, it would be like closing a door for those who want to simply relax in front of a painting. It makes no sense. It’s like reading a book: if you want to read a book just read it, don’t ask people what it’s about because it will destroy your view about the book.
Do you think i’ts possible for people to identify themselves with your paintings? Maybe through humour, life situations?
Yes! I think it happens as with every sort of art, it’s in its power. All painters create different situations, which is why there are so many painters, so many styles and so many people who like totally different styles and artists. There are so many worlds to visit and to read from. And I think it’s a nice power, being able to create something that could only be in the imagination of others.
How do you decide what you will paint for each wall or project? Do you stay in the area or get to know it first?
We like to see the wall first of all, then make the sketch while we are the city that we are gonna paint, but sometimes the organisator needs the sketch before. So in some occasions we have had to do it before but we prefer to see the wall and then start to talk, to think about the ideas and carry out the rest. In any case we are not really making the walls connected to the places that we are painting in. We want to make something new, like we won’t paint motors in a motor building, it doesn’t make sense. We like to paint something uncommon in the place, like in Portugal, where we painted a polar bear… but they’re never gonna see a polar bear there! Not good excessively relating the painting with the place.
Why is that?
Bezt: Because we would rather paint something completely different. People want to see not the things that they see everyday but something from a totally different world.
Sainer: I think it’s boring, you know? If there’s a lot of sailors living in the same village it makes no sense to paint a boat. They’ve been seeing boats their whole lives, another boat would be no surprise for them. Also it’s funny how some people say ‘Awww I hate it’, but then after a year you hear that they love it now.This helps people open their mind. Funny thing in Poland also, people are very conservative there and they prefer to have religious stuff hanging from the wall, something connected to them and that shows than Poland has a power. I think this makes no sense because we have so many religious symbols around us already that we need to bring something new.
And at the end people are happy…
We never know..we paint and then we leave, so most of the times we don’t know whether people are happy or not.
What’s a normal day like in your studio?
Bezt: It’s like a normal job. You wake up, have breakfast and then go paint! Then after that you go back home. I’m painting in my house so I have everything at my place, it’s just painting and relax. Like any other job it’s the stuff you do almost everyday.
Sainer: I have the studio outside my place, but my girlfriend and I wake up very early, she goes to her job and I work on the emails. Then I go to the studio, paint as much as possible, go back home, eat something and maybe draw a little bit. If you’re lucky you have a nice or even fantastic idea and you say ‘Woah this is incredible for a painting’. But it sometimes happens that we start talking about some idea, then after two days we have enough of it, we are bored and we want to paint something totally different. And for this exhibition it was freestyled a lot, we are painting together in the wall but we don’t have an exact idea, but just trying to connect totally different things. For some projects we even prepare sketches by Skype, it’s funny in the end how it works. We’re not like a typical group for not being in the same city, and we can only see each other and hang out together during trips.
Does you ever wake up at night and have an idea you have to write down or draw?
Bezt: No, in fact when this happens I think I will still remember the day after and then I don’t (laughs). But no, I don’t have any visions.
Sainer: Sometimes I do, I wake up and I have to write something or sketch a little bit..but just sometimes. I dream about drawing, but Bezt dreams about waking up!
What about the things you have in mind now?
We have nothing in our minds…we just do freestyle and try to make something small.
Do you sometimes change your own style to adapt to a project or to each other, or is it important to keep it real?
We started with different point of views, Sainer painted more realistic things and I did more styles and characters. Then we started to mix our styles and right now I think we have very similar styles, although you can still see who is painting what, and we are not trying to change our styles.
Sainer: I never think about my style, I just paint what I like and using my style. I don’t plan how my style is gonna be. It’s a process, you simply paint and the style is just a part of it.
How did you decide to paint together?
We met in Art school and then after a few days we started to paint a wall together, although only letters. We were friends before…
Sainer: right now we’re not! (laughs). We started partying and having fun and then began to paint together and it’s stayed till now. It just happened.
Photos and video by Edgar Lledó
Location: Creative art space “La Escocesa”